Abu Dhabi says Louvre branch will debut in 2013

Scrapped Guggenheim tender won’t impact launch of Parisian art institution, says TDIC

Saadiyat Island is a $27bn art and culture project

Saadiyat Island is a $27bn art and culture project

Abu Dhabi’s state tourism arm will open a branch of the famed Louvre museum in the UAE capital in late 2013, despite construction setbacks in another part of the city’s planned cultural district, AFP has reported.

The Tourism Development and Investment Co told the newswire a branch of the Parisian museum will open in 2013, a year behind schedule, and work was “progressing as planned”.

The Louvre will be the first museum to open its doors in Abu Dhabi’s $27bn Saadiyat Island cultural district.

TDIC on Sunday confirmed it had cancelled a tender related to the construction of the Guggenheim museum in the UAE capital. The 450,000-sq ft museum will be the world's largest and is designed by architect Frank Gehry.

"Due to a review of its project procurement strategy, TDIC has recalled the concrete works tender of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum," the statement said. "This work, which forms a part of the multiple work contracts that make up the project, will be retendered at a future date."

In March, competing companies submitted bids for the AED400m ($108.9m) contract, according to London-based Middle East Economic Digest (MEED), including UAE's Al Habtoor-Leighton Group, Dubai builder Arabtec, Saudi Oger, Egypt's Orascom Construction and South Korea's Samsung C&T.

TDIC recently completed roadshows for the potential bond issue, but delayed the sale due to market conditions.

The loss-making firm also cut its 2011 budget by AED5bn (1.4 billion) as part of a strategy to prolong its project delivery schedule.

The planned Guggenheim museum is the subject of a boycott by a group of international artists, announced in March, in response to allegation of worker abuses among labourers recruited to work on Saadiyat Island.

The group, which includes Kuwait-born artist Hamra Abbas and Syria’s Khaled Barakeh, said it was highlighting concerns over issues including unlawful recruiting fees and broken promises of wages, revealed in a 2009 Human Rights Watch report.

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Posted by: Mulath Mabsoot

Perhaps the postponement of the Guggenheim Museum is all for the best. This would give an opportunity for the Saadiyat Island planners to consider relocating the Guggenheim Museum in a more protected site behind the bridge and move the proposed Maritime museum to seaward of the bridge. No Tall Ships from other nations will come to visit the Maritime Museum in its proposed location and in this world of rising tides the Art Museums would be more secure further down island behind the Maritime Museum?s seawall.

Mulath Mabsoot

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